Tuesday, October 5, 2010
David Taylor: Working the Line
I was recently in Marfa for the Marfa Dialogues sponsored by Marfa Ballroom. I had many wonderful conversations with David Taylor, who, apart from being the salt of the earth, is a fierce and gifted photographer. I am posting some information about his new photos, some of which appear in a new book of photography entitled, Working the Line. I own a signed copy. If you read my blog, then this book belongs in your library. To see the images, log on to David's website: www.dtaylorphoto.com
Artist's Statement: Working the Line
For the last three years I have been photographing along the U.S.-Mexico border between El Paso/Juarez and Tijuana/San Diego. My project is organized around an effort to document all of the monuments that mark the international boundary west of the Rio Grande. The rigorous effort to reach all of the 276 obelisks, most of which were installed between the years 1891 and 1895, has inevitably led to encounters with migrants, smugglers, the Border Patrol, minutemen and residents of the borderlands.
During the period of my work the United States Border Patrol has doubled in size and the federal government has constructed over 600 miles of pedestrian fencing and vehicle barrier. With apparatus that range from simple tire drags (that erase foot prints allowing fresh evidence of crossing to be more readily identified) to seismic sensors (that detect the passage of people on foot or in a vehicle) the border is under constant surveillance. To date the Border Patrol has attained “operational control” in many areas, however people and drugs continue to cross. Much of that traffic occurs in the most remote, rugged areas of the southwest deserts.
My travels along the border have been done both alone and in the company of Border Patrol agents. I have been granted broad access to photograph field operations and the routine activities that occur within Border Patrol stations.
In total, the resulting pictures are intended to offer a view into locations and situations that we generally do not access and portray a highly complex physical, social and political topography.
announces the publication and launch of
DAVID TAYLOR: WORKING THE LINE
Essays by Hannah Frieser and Luis Alberto Urrea
Clothbound, 11 x 101⁄2 inches
148 pages with a 44-page accordion-fold booklet, 120 four-color illus.
$50.00 Pre-order online
Signed copy of the book, and a signed and numbered
original print in a folio. Edition of 40.
$800.00 Print selection online
“I've been watching David Taylor's border project for years, with deep admiration. There are a lot of borders out there, including a few unnecessary ones that over the decades have divided photography up into documentary, landscape, portrait, still life and so forth. Part of the brilliance of his survey of the U.S.–Mexico border is that it reveals the strange cruel reach of this idea—for the border is most of all an idea—through all these: landscape, portrait, serial imagery, interiors of detention cells and kilo vehicles, close-ups—all the angles and pieces it takes to understand this tragic tangle of need, geography and ideology.”
In 2008, David Taylor received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his ongoing examination of the U.S.–Mexico border. His investigation is organized around the documentation of a series of 276 obelisks that mark the international boundary as it extends from El Paso/Juarez to San Diego/Tijuana. These monuments—striking objects situated in impossibly gorgeous and difficult terrain—were installed between the years 1892 and 1895.
In the process of his work, Taylor earned remarkable access to U.S. Border Patrol facilities, agents and routine operations. Patrol agents often refer to their job in the field as "line work" which is an apt description of Taylor's own time as he documented the obelisks. Being on the "line" has given Taylor a unique view into overlapping issues of border security, human and drug smuggling, the continuing construction of the border fence and its impact on the land.
This book captures the complexity of the terrain, the politics, and the human dynamics involved. While the images are documentary in nature, they are so formally and visually compelling that the work ultimately transcends genre.